There’s a scene in the latest Terminator adventure, the 5th entry called Genisys, where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original T-800 tells Kyle Reese, “I am old, yet not obsolete.” I wish the same could be said for the latest sequel/reboot/reimagining. I grew up on these films and I still think the entire thing could have ended with James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day. While the third Terminator film wasn’t bad and featured an unexpected ending, Terminator Salvation was weak and didn’t feature Arnold at all and this summer blockbuster pretender is all flash and has zero originality.
I’m sorry, but reshaping the entire storyline to fit the requirements for making a 5th film doesn’t count as being original. Sure, Arnold is back in full bad to the bone mode as the ultimate protector. Game of Thrones darling Emilia Clarke is Sarah Connor and the blank slate Jai Courtney tries his best to not mess up Kyle Reese, but it’s not enough to make this reboot required. Jason Clarke is a skilled actor, but has little to do here as John Connor, the man who sent Reese back to save his mom, or something like that. Around an hour into the film, the plot gets very complicated and grows more tedious by the moment. What was simple turns into a constant changing of the timeline. Summer action films shouldn’t be this complicated, heavy and recycled.
The film isn’t without its pleasures. It’s a kick to see Arnold strap on the leather jacket again and do classic Arnold things like fire off quirky one liners and add a lightness to the occasion while beating up robots. The Austrian action megastar can be 80 years old and still walk into a room decked out in this gear and own the place. Director Alan Taylor(Thor: Dark World) injects many homages to the original two films that bring a small smile to the face as the film staggers through its 2 hour and 6 minute running time. The good though doesn’t come close to outweighing the bad or average here. Terminator Genisys is designed to fail.
Courtney keeps getting high profile roles in huge films, but he’s so wooden and is devoid of conviction. He was flat in A Good Day to Die Hard, Divergent, and adds little here. He makes me yearn for Michael Biehn’s original Reese instead of making the role his own. Clarke is very easy on the eyes, does her best with an American accent, but doesn’t have the role to produce anything memorable with. She’s a pretty face in a violent film. J.K. Simmons probably did this film before his rep exploded with Whiplash, which he won an Oscar for this year. Everyone is going through the motions or stands out in a bad way. I hope James Cameron doesn’t watch this film.
When I walked into this film, I wanted to know if it was worth it. Was this reboot/franchise addition needed and would it add anything new to the series? The answer was a resounding yet easy to discover “No”. Terminator Genisys isn’t a terrible film, but it doesn’t add anything fresh to the story and pales in comparison to the second(and greatest) film in the franchise. When Arnold pushed that button, sunk into that pit, and incinerated himself back in 1992 in front of a teary eyed Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong, Terminator hit its peak. It’s fallen hard since.
Terminator Genisys may be worth watching for pure action junkies or people feeling nostalgic towards the originals. Just do me a favor and wait for it on DVD.